The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on the tragic accident Tuesday that killed Barton County Commissioner Don Cates. This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors.
On April 22, 2014, about 1:30 p.m. central daylight time, N51990, an Air Tractor 502B, was destroyed when it collided with power lines then terrain while spraying a hay field in Garfield. Kansas. The airline transport rated pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Farmer’s Spraying Service Incorporated, Pratt, Kansas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the aerial spraying flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137.
A witness stated that he had hired the pilot to spray his hay field for weevils. He was standing in his home looking out a window when he saw the airplane start its first pass from south to north. The witness then saw a puff of smoke when the airplane struck a set power lines that ran east and west along the field. The airplane descended behind a tree line and the witness immediately called 911. The witness then drove toward where he last saw the airplane and discovered that it had impacted a road. There was no post-impact fire.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector responded to the accident site and said the airplane struck the very top wire to the power line, which was a 3-inch-wide static cable.